Monday, June 7, 2010

soo good thing i know how to swim....

a couple weekends ago my friend kate and i flew up to cairns, queensland which is right on the coast of the great barrier reef. buuut its pronounced cAns... it was the weekend just before our study week and a bunch of kids from our uni were going up there the same weekend. we left friday morning on a bus to the brisbane airport, we started off our trip nicely but BARELY making our bus... we got to the train station to take a train to the airport and couldnt figure out where to go so we roamed around that place for a while till a lady asked us if we needed help, clearly we did. this is basically our entire trip of kate and i not knowing what to do or where to go.... haha we got to the airport too early to check in so we sat in the lobby like bums for about an hour and ate pita bread with tomato sauce and cheese, classy meal. we made it to cairns friday night around midnight and walked up to a FAT party outside and all around our hostel. we couldn't go out that night though because we had white water rafting to go to a 6:45 in the morning. soo the next morning we get ready to go rafting and meet outside to be picked up with four of our other friends from uni. we had all signed up for the EXTREME all day, rafting. sweet. thankfully, i'm a good swimmer. we had to sign all these forms about liability, and insurance, rah,rah,rah then pay $30, also for insurance. i then start to realize just how EXTREME, this thing might be. i legit start freaking out. we get out of the van and they give us our life jackets, helmets, and oars. im pretty sure my helmet could not have been on tighter. there were six of us in our little raft and then our guide. we got in and just started going and i was like uhhhh can you tell me what im supposed to do??! and he's like ohh yeah no worries mate ill let you know when it happens... sweet, should i tell him now or later that i can't swim? so he can tell im pretty freaked out and just says well if you're in the water float on your back and kick the rocks away with your feet, and just go to where i point or get back in the boat as fast as possible. ohhh so i will be falling in? even better.... ahh! after about ten minutes my freak out ended and i just did exactly what he told me to do, if he told me to jump of a cliff i would have. it was insane, he would say paddle forward and i was like a machine, haha i did not want to be the reason we got stuck in a fall or flip the boat. soo i calmed down and legit started enjoying my self. i actually loved it and by the end wanted to do it again. it was SOOO much freaking fun. though i was extremely tense the entire time it was amazing. buuuut you will all never believe what i did. we went through this one part of the rapid where there were about 7 undercurrent rapids? right in a row and we went through it on the boat, we were bouncing up and down and water was going every where and we're like ohh sweet we made it through that then he steers us over to the side and ties up the raft and he's like alright, now we're going to swim through that..... uhhhh wtf. so like i said, i just did whatever this guy said for some reason and was like alright people we're swimming. we walk back on the side of the river to the beginning of this rapid and he tells us we need to walk out as far as possible till we basically fall over and swim to the center riiiiight in between the huge boulders... im like ok yeah.. then he says you have about half a second to catch your breath between each rapid... so make sure you do that. ok go. ummmm. what? we all just look at each other and don't move. so finally our guide makes us jump in and somehow i found myself at the first rapid. eff. i was so focused on breathing and timing it it was insane, im pretty sure i was under water the entire time just gettin tossed around hit one rock and every chance of air i got i took it. then i popped out at the end of the rapids and swam as fast as i could to the rafts. hoooollly crap i was like, i did it. i really did it, i can't believe i survived. then a bunch of other people from our group were behind us but they didnt quite swim over quick enough and they had to be thrown ropes to be pulled in and some of them weren't in the middle of the huge boulders, etc... sooo we all get out and our guides like soo we all didn't do so well on that last one, so we're doing it again. im like this is a freaaaaaking joke. i survived once, the chances of that happening again are not likely. but once again he says jump, i say how high? i get in the water again, pass through the rocks, get pushed under the water and bob my way through the rapids somehow successfully making it to the raft again. im amazing. soo for those of you who go to the river with me and do some floating there, that is now a joke to life and that current has nothing on me. i swim through rapids. haha anyway, i managed to survive a day of white water rafting and i LOVED it. we got home later afternoon and everyone had tickets for a pub crawl that night that was sold out. kate and i kept trying to find tickets but couldn't buy them anywhere. theeen at dinner these guys came up and said they had two extra tickets for the pub crawl, score. sooo not only did we get to go on the pub crawl.... but it was free. woo! it was soo sweet. it started at the bar at our hostel then a party bus took us around the city to 5 different bars. it was super fun, participated in some inappropriate contests, got a few drinks.... it was great. the next day we all just hung out by the pool, there was about 15 of us from our college there. that after noon they had a free bbq at the bar and we got to do this free zip line across the pool. we didn't really go out that night because we were all going on the scuba boat the next day. monday morning we woke up and all walked down to the harbor to catch our reef experience boat out to scuba the great barrier reef. again im stoked because im a really good swimmer.... they gave us all wetsuits, goggles, snorkels and fins and broke us up into diving groups of four people. if we weren't in the first diving group we could just go out and snorkel on our own, so my friends are just like alright lets go jump off the boat and snorkel around. im like uhh what? we just go off on our own... nope. can't im finally talked into getting in the water and starting to snorkel. i don't know why i was such a baby this trip but someone should have punched me. i got in the water and started to snorkel. the second i put my head under water and started to swim around i forgot everything i was ever scared of and it was the coolest feeling ever. turns out, all those bored summer days of me swimming around the edge of my pool with my mask on really did pay off, i was a natural. you just got carried away looking at everything and it's like you're in a different world. i loved it! it was my groups time to scuba so i went back to the boat and got all geared up for scuba diving. after i had conquered snorkelling i wasn't freaked out at all for the scuba which i was actually really surprised about. it was easy and i just swam around soaking it all in. our scuba guide was really cool and he would get us to hold these sea cucumbers and put our hands inside this clam that would close up on it. then before i knew it we were coming back to the surface. it was weird thinking that i just went scuba diving at the great barrier reef and all i wanted was to go back down. after all the scuab groups had finished we drove the boat to another section of the reef and were allowed to pay for a second dive. only a few of us did but it was definitely worth it because on this dive we saw a sea turtle!! i had an underwater camera and im hoping i got really good pictures. on our second dive we stayed down for a little while longer and got to see a lot more stuff, we went down where there was sand on the reef and took our fins off and walked around and jumped and did little flips where i almost hit my head straight on the coral.... haha oops luckily our guide saw it and just straight pushed me out of the way. after out dive we were all just sitting up on the deck of the boat waiting to head back to the marina. but our scuba day ended quite tragically. after all the dives and snorkelling our instructors were checking everybody back on to the boat to make sure everyone was there. one person had not checked in. they waited a while and were looking in the bathrooms and joking around about this person taking too long in the pisser. after about 15 minutes we all realised that this was becoming serious. we sat there and watched the instructors agree that this person had not gotten back on the boat and that it was an emergency. they called for rescue and sent out divers on a raft to search around the boat. we were all sent to the bottom deck and basically stood there in silence not knowing what to do or say. we just watched out the windows as the divers searched around the entire boat. all of a sudden the raft came back to boat, more guys got in with several scuba tanks and went back to where they had dropped one diver. they had found the guy underwater, and began to give him CPR, took him to a sand island close by and called a helicopter. it was unreal and so intense. it still doesn't seem like i actually witnessed it happen. none of us knew him so we couldn't help with reports on where we had seen him diving but we found out later that he didn't make it. it was crazy and so intense that i wasn't really even sure how to react. other than a really hard ending we all had a really good day. and a great time in cairns. i basically conquered my fear of the open ocean, sort of, and i would like to say im an amazing swimmer now. after rapids and scuba diving, im preeetty sure i can do anything.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

camping at girraween!

our second outdoor ed trip was last week. we basically planned it ourselves and have been prepping for it for the last month in class. we left sunday morning and got to the national park around 10am. packed up our backpacks, which could barely fit all my food, clothes, the 10 liters of water we had to carry with us, tents and our stoves, all on my back for the next four days. sweet. we hiked to our first campsite which was about 7ks and made it just in time to hike up south bald rock to watch the sunset. after the sunset we all went back down to set up our tents. tara and i shared a tent that was just big enough for the two of us to lay next to each other/on top of each other. we made our gourmet dinners of pasta and sauce in the dark and then a few of us went back over to the rack slabs where we had hiked up for sunset and watched the stars. we saw five shooting stars and listened to the rest of our group play a great game of who would you rather from the tents... solid evening and we were prob asleep by 9:30. the next morning we woke up for the sunrise, hiked back up the rock which took a little longer considering we were all half asleep. we explored the top of the rock and these sick caves. we all had to use our headlamps and squeeze through these ridiculously small spaces but then it opened up into this really pretty lush green area inside the rocks where sunlight was able to hit. it was amazing. and apparently i love caving now. or spalunking =] after the caves we went back down the mountain packed up our camp and started our next hike. we pretty much just walked for about 6 hours straight, took breaks for lunch and kept ourselves occupied on the walks. got to our next campsite set everything up and were exhausted. tara and i, again, struggled with our tent but it stayed up so thats all the matters. we ventured out with dinner this night and made grilled cheese with english muffins, it was alright, took a while but it was good. we made our own campfire by lighting all the stoves and putting them together and made jello, but instead of letting it sit and get cold we just drank it warm and it was delicious and amazing because it was freaking freezing outside. i had on a beanie, gloves, a sweatshirt, a fleece, a long sleeve t-shirt and a short sleeve, leggings and warm up pants aaaaaand two pairs of socks. and i wore that to bed. crazytalk. i survived the cold though it wasn't too bad. we sat outside our tents that night and watched the stars, only saw three shooting stars that night but still amazing. im obsessed with the stars here. nothing compares to the outback though. we slept in a little the next morning and it took us a while to pack up our camp. we finally started our next hike which we had to navigate through the freakin bush with no trail. apparently our group went the hard way and ended up on the side of a hill walking through these ridiculous thorn and prickly bushes, it was retarded. for some reason i couldn't stop laughing, it didn't seem like real life that we were legit trekking through the forest in these ridiculous bushes. our legs and arms were all extremely jacked after that with cuts everywhere. we finally got to the bottom of it and met up with the other group who said... where have you guys been, we've been on the trail the whole time.... sweet. hahaha it was a great adventure though actually some of our group was legit mad but we all laughed about it after. until we had to walk off trail again, climb up a ridiculous rock, find a trail that we had no idea which trail it was, went the wrong way on it, went an hour and a half in the wrong direction, we're out of radio signal and couldn't contact anyone, and storm clouds were moving in and all we heard was thunder. that was right about when our whole group got crazy. i couldn't stop laughing, the boys were mad because they were NOT lost... thought the girls insisted we were, we left our backpacks on the trail and just started walking the other way hoping to find something. we then just sat down and were like weeeell. we're screwed haha. one girl jsut sat down and blew her whistle repeatedly, the boys we're legit getting mad and we're basically all delirious and just wanted to get to the water hole we were supposed to meet the rest of our group at. we got to the water hole and the other group had been waiting for about 2 hours there for us. oops. hahaha our group was pretty frustrated with other and we were all getting and giving the silent treatment. tara and i jumped in the freeeeeeeezing water hole just for a quick refresher then started back up the trail to get our packs and go on to our next campsite. on our hike we saw about 70 kangaroos. it was amazing. they were all just in the wild sittin around and then would just start hoppin away. we saw a huge one go right in front of us on the trail and they look pretty scary that close. not so cute when its running full speed at you then hops a fence. we made it to our next campsite againg just in time to hike up mt norman to watch the sunset. only four of us went up and it was soo pretty. the hike up for the sunset was 6ks and somehow jenny and i ran so we could get up to the top on time. saw the sunset and went back down. i never thought i would do so much work everyday to watch the sun rise and set, but theres just something soo amazing about it and even though it happens every morning and every night i still want to see it as if i've never seen it before. made some quality dinner in the dark again, and our group was all happy with each other again and just laughed about how retarded we all were that whole day. the boys were still never lost though. the next morning we got up at 4:30am and hiked up mt norman in the dark with our sleeping bags and stuff to make breakfast so we could get up there while it was still dark, lay out our sleeping bags and be able watch the sunrise from our sleeping bags and then be able to sleep up there after and make brekky when we woke up. that was literally the coolest thing i have ever done. it was amazing. being able to lay there and watch thy sky go from pitch black and slowly see the red and orange rays come up and see the entire transformation, its indescribable. it made a rainbow on the horizon just from the glow of the sun before it actually came up. probably one of the most beautiful things ive ever seen. it was freeeezing up there though because we were on the top of the mountain with nothing to stop the wind so we were all legit bundled up in our sleeping bags and you couldnt even see our faces. we tried to sleep a little after the sunrise but i just layed there freeeezing from the wind tara, todd, kirsten and i probably could not have been closer to each other trying to keep each other warm. we did some more caving which was super cool and got to explore and find our own way out of these bigger caves, saw some rats crawling in some of them, which was a little gross but not too bad and then had to shimmy out of this tiny little hole between the dirt ground and this huuuuge boulder, it was crazy. but sooo much fun. we hiked back down mt. norman and had to pack camp up to hike back to the bus. overall i think we walked about 25ks which is insane considering i had probably 25 pounds on my back the entire time. i loved every second of it though. we all just got to hang out the entire time which was so much fun. not really sure what we did just hiked and hung out. but im really going to miss all these people and camping trips. its been amazing and outdoor ed has been one of the most fun experiences i have had. i love this place and wish i could do it all over again. after we got back from camping a group of us ordered pizzas. there were 7 of us and we got 13 pizzas... we all had two pizzas except for one person which definitely wasn't me. we looked really cool sitting at our kitchen table just eating out of the box with another box underneath. amazing. wish we could camp like this every weekend.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

8 days in the outback: perfection.

soo it's been a struggle trying to get this post written because i knew no matter what i wrote i would not be able to explain how amazing this was or what i experienced. i also knew that it would be a loooooooong post so i was kind of putting it off like it was an assignment. i finally wrote it at 1 am when i'm supposed to be getting up for my next camping trip at 7 am tomorrow. ooooops. anyways. here's the breakdown of my amazing outback trip =]

we left saturday, april 3rd at 4:45am. craazy. i was dead and somehow managed to walk out to the bus in the dark then immediately fell asleep on the bus. we drove to the brisbane airport which is about 2 and a half hours away and then took a flight from there to alice springs, which is in the northern territory. it was about a 3 hour flight. we got to alice springs, which is basically the gate way to the outback, or central australia and rented to troopees, land rover/jeep type cars where we put all our big packs on top of the car, all our food under the seats and nine of us in each car all facing each other in the back seat like one big happy family. =] it was beautiful, for the first half hour at least, then we all got sweaty, smelly, dirt flew in from the windows... perfect. (day 1) we started our journey around the outback and drove about 2 hours to basically the side of the road, where we parked, got our packs, everything we needed for dinner and hiked about thirty minutes off the road to set up camp on the side of the finke river, which was pretty much dried up. it was amazing. there were about 70 million flies everywhere, all over my face, in my mouth, in our food. sweeet. we all just threw our sleeping bags on the ground around the campfire and fell asleep. the sky was amazing. you could see the galaxy and stars everywhere. i was in love. (day 2) we woke up the next morning, packed up our camp and hiked back out to the troopees, our goal was to wake up before the flies, didn't happen. breakfast consisted of powdered milk, water, weet bix and milo. yuuuuuuum. wheat bis like frosted mini wheats without frost and milo is like nesquik powder except if you try to add it into milk for chocolate milk it stays chunky.... i legit miss it. we drove to kata tjuta, one of the major landmarks of central australia, made up of huge dome rocks that look pretty sweet. we hiked about 7.5 km through kata tjuta and then got done just in time to watch the sunset on to them and literally see the color of the rocks change. gorgeous. we drove to our campsite which was an actual campground and set up our stuff before dinner. i was surprised that we were at an actual campground but it was pretty cool because we got to go swimming that night and the next day which felt amazing. this night we actually went out for dinner. we went to pioneer tavern which was this outdoor bar type restaurant. the best way i can describe is like the place in sweet home alabama when they all go out dancing.... i hope you know what im talking about haha but anyways it was a super cool atmosphere. we ordered our food and they handed us our meat on a plate and we had to cook it ourselves! there were a bunch of bbqs all lined up and everyone was cooking their own food! it was soo cool haha i had no idea what i was doing and considering i ordered emu sausage, i had no idea what to expect. after much questioning of if my meat was done or not i ate emu sausage. so freaking good. didn't even need to dip it in ketchup, surprising i know. there was a guy just playing his guitar on stage singing whatever song we yelled out. we all got up and danced and looked really cool, in sweaty shorts and t-shirts, no socks and running shoes. best dancing ever. it was a really cool atmosphere and sooo much fun. we went back to our campground and again, threw our sleeping bags out where ever we could and fell asleep, this night not so much under the stars because we fell asleep watching storms all around us. for some reason we didn't think about the lightening happening all around us and we just stayed there until it started raining on us.... haha then we all had to get up in a panic get all our stuff together and ended up piling into the laundry room of the campsite. it was actually really funny and we were all like ahhh this is a pretty cool experience, it never rains in the outback! (day 3)the next morning we drove to uluru. uluru is probably the most recognizable feature of the outback and the huge red rock in the middle of it. known as the heart of australia. and i got to walk around it.10.4 km later i had circled the most sacred part of the indigenous culture. sweeet as. we went back to camp, swam for a while had lunch, the usual pb&j on a tortilla, some salami, cheese... the good stuff. then headed off to our next campsite about 4 hours away. we were driving down the road and basically just randomly turned off of it, drove for about 30 minutes and stopped, set up our stuff and called it our campsite. amazing. we went looking for firewood and ended getting in the troopee to look for decided to just hit a tree over and take it to the campsite for a fire. legit. made dinner, sat around the campfire and fell asleep under the stars. this night we actually did get to watch storms happen all around us but we never got rained on. it was pretty cool to just watch the lightening and see it so clearly without being in the storm. (day 4) the beautiful breakfast of weetbix and milo again, then off to our next hike, my personal favorite, kings canyon. it was a 6.5 km walk except it wasn't a walk it was straight up this mountain that pretended to have stairs and then along the edges of these crazy cliffs. it was beautiful. it lead into this waterhole that was soo cool. we swam and hungout there for about an hour and a half and played frisbee and loved life. it was amazing. we finished the hike and had lunch and prepared for the rest of our night. we packed up our backpacks with everything we needed for the night, dinner and to sleep and hiked with our packs back through kings canyon on a 7.5 km walk to where we would be sleeping. we did the first half as the sun was going down and took a break to watch the sunset. then somehow we found our way in the dark to our "campsite". pretty much the middle of these rocks where we were told we would be sleeping on top of a rock or in a cave. haha we made some sweet burritos then hiked up these honeycomb type hills to where we would be sleeping. there were about 5 of us on each little honeycomb hilltop. its hard to explain but its was complete rock, and that was my bed. sweet. we were once again rained on, even though it doesn't rain in the outback and had to climb down the honeycombs in the middle. considering there was lightening everywhere and we were all just laying on the top of these mountains that were the highest point around it was a good idea we went to the bottom of the rocks and slept there, still rock though. (day 5)the next morning was my favorite. its been a while since we've all used a bathroom... and it was pancake day. =] at the beginning of our trip, steve, our instructor and my outdoor ed teacher, explained to us how we would survive without toilets. in order for there not to be piles of poop everywhere, people have to make it so that it can easily turn into dust and blow away, maybe smash it somehow.... make it into a thing layer... he called it making pancakes. kings canyon was the perfect place for pancakes and i of course had to take advantage of that. it was a great experience that taylor, regina and i shared. we actually had toilets a lot of the other days between gas stations and the campsite we were at before so it wasn't too bad. but you can't pass up making pancakes. we had to hike back out of kings canyon, 7.5 km back down with our packs on, we all were booking it though so we could get to our next campsite in time to be able to swim so it wasn't too bad of a walk. we got down to the troopees, made our glorious lunch of pb&j, salami, cheese and tortillas again and headed out on another 4 hour drive to our next destination. our car rides consisted of this drinking game called zoomie zoomie where you do a lot of clapping and you just call out numbers to pass it to the next person, we stayed hydrated it was great. we played hangman and learned a lot of cool words that im pretty sure people started making up then if you were lucky enough to sit in the front with steve or jude you got to be in charge of the ipod or tell your life story to steve. it was great. we became a family in no time. our next campsite was the bank of the finke river again, but much further away than the first night. the river was actually flowing by this time from all the rain and we got to swim in it. not only have i walked around uluru but swam in the oldest river in the world. amazing. we played frisbee again and just hung out in the river until we made dinner that night. by this night i was happy to eat any bug that flew in our food. it pretty much just became a part of our meal. we had bought fly nets to wear over our faces so we always looked cool and didn't have to worry about the flys, mosi's we're every where and im probably slowly dying from the amount of insect spray i put on myself but im not worried about whatever made it onto my spoon right before i take a bite of pasta. it got to the point to not be worth it anymore. there were probably about 14 in each stove of pasta we were boiling so everyone was getting there fair share of protein. delicious. we made amazing beds on the sand around our campfire and we're banking on a great night sleep. but of course, since it doesn't rain in the outback, about 2 hours later it starts pouring. it was crazy we were all trying to get our backpacks somewhere dry and find somewhere to sleep. regina and i got pretty lucky and we're told there was no room in a tent buuuut we just got in the troopee and slept on the benches. it poured allllll night it was crazy. (day 6)we woke up in the morning to everyone else either soaking wet, or their stuff soaking wet. regina and i felt like we had slept at the holiday inn. all our stuff was dry, we were dry and sprawled out across the entire troopee with just the two of us. for some reason no one else got in the car with us. soo we lucked out. had some weet bix and milo again, delicious as always, hung around for a while trying to dry everyone's stuff and packed up the troopees to drive to our next hike.
sooo since it apparently doesnt rain in the ouback this was extremely unusual and the route that we had planned to get to our next hike and campsite was flooded. there was a river gushing over the streets and we had to make a detour a couple times to figure out what to do. we ended up doing a couple small hikes, walked down to another water hole where we had planned on swimming until there was a FOUL smell and then we saw the cause of that smell... the dead kangaroo in the water. siiiiick. changed our plan about swimming and hiked to the top off the lookout at serpentine gorge which was about a 3 km hike. everyone was exhausted because we basically hadn't slept in two days because of having to get out of the rain and lightening the last two nights. also due to the flooded roads we had to change our plans and find new campsites. we ended up finding this little hiking area where a family lived and ran a little shop and restaurant. they let us sleep on basically the porch of their restaurant under the overhangs so we could get a good night sleep out of the rain, because once again it poured allllll night. at one time during the night i was convinced the overhang was going to fall down. it was crazy. we all were able to stay dry and get a good night's sleep for the most part so that was really good. (day 7) we had to get up pretty early to pack up all of our stuff before the shop opened so packed up and went on a short hike through simpson gap and up through a creek. it rained on us a little all day but nothing too bad. packed up the troopees and went in search for where we would be sleeping that night. we pretty much had no plan or idea where we would be sleeping because of all the roads being flooded we had to avoid crossing certain rivers so that we wouldn't get stuck there and miss our flights back from alice springs. we ended up at a caravan park. sweet eh... hahaha we drove in with all our packs on top of the cars to a bunch of old people in motor homes. haha they had a tiny little pool there so we all went swimming and played games and then made our last dinner together. we hung out all night and leyed out a tarp on the grass and decided we would stick it out if it rained again because we wanted to spend out last night in the outback under the stars. it sprinkled a little but nothing too bad. (day 8) we woke up and made pancakes, i still had my weet bix and milo though because its too good to resist. packed up our troopees for the last time and headed off to the alice springs airport. cleaning out the cars was a disaster. there was a terrible smell in ours from who knows what, food everywhere, probably a dead animal somewhere and ridiculously dirty. somehow we cleaned it pretty well. i cant imagine what we all smelled like, we looked good, after 8 days of hiking, being in that troopee, little to no sleep and being rained on.... yum. we made it back to brisbane, not by my choice, i would have stayed in the outback for the next two months if it were up to me. steve and jude, the guys who lead us on this amazing journey, we're being picked up from the airport and sent us on our bus back to lismore. we all had a problem though, it was saturday night and we realized that by the time we would get home, all of the stores would be closed and we wouldn't be able to get alcohol for the night. we asked our bus driver to take us to liquor land on the way home, somehow he agreed. he then went straight from the airport to liquor land and then allowed us to start drinking on the bus..... best bus driver ever. our bus ride got real sloppy real quick considering none of us had a proper meal or legit night sleep in a week and were completely exhausted, but somehow we were ready to go out that night. by that time we were all in love with each other and had this great bond from the amazing experience in the outback. the next morning i woke up and all i wanted was to be back in my sleeping bag, out on a rock somewhere being rained on with everyone right next to me in their sleeping bags. i missed the outback and everyone hanging out soo much. a week later we had a dinner out on the rec deck and shared all of our pictures. about every ten pictures someone would say, "let's go back". if i could, i would in a heartbeat. it was without a doubt the most amazing experience in my life. i loved every second of it, and everyone i shared it with. when i explain what we did, all i can say is we hiked for 3 hours, drove for 3 hours, cooked dinner, tried to sleep, got rained on, woke up and did it all over again. it was the most fun and amazing thing i've ever been a part of and i want to go back to it everyday.

Friday, April 2, 2010

sydney, the most amazing place in the world, aaaaaand what up 21!

last thursday, me and 3 of my friends, beth, tara and sam, left on a 12 hour overnight train ride. worst thing ever. there were wackadoos everywhere. it started off with a 30 minute bus trip to the train station where an extremely drunk and smelly man sat behind beth and i and asked us what language we were speaking and told us we had funny accents. he was kicked off the train when we got here and dropped his backpack and all the bottles in it broke, sad day for him. good thing he was gone though. we tried to sleep but that didn't work out. i kept waking up in a panic thinking my stuff had been stolen when i was sleeping luckily that was a negative. we got to sydney about 7am walked to our hostel put everything away and started off on our adventure to manly beach. we walked what felt like forever to circular quay where we took a ferry to manly. SOOOO PRETTY! the ferry was amazing it took as straight through the harbor and we had amazing views of the bridge, opera house and the gorgeous multi-million dollar homes, aka my future residence. all of us could not have been more excited to finally just get to the beach to lay down. after the beach did some shopping and got some sweeeet souvenirs and took the ferry back to circular quay. we walked up to the stairs of the opera house and took some great photos and looked really cool while taking them. not like tourists at all. after the opera house we walked ALLLL the way back to our hostel, the wake up, and made dinner, the usual pasta and sauce. =] after drinking quite possibly the worst goon ever and oh umm zero hours of sleep, we were somehow still alive to go out to kings cross in sydney. i hailed my first taxi and was really proud of myself, we even got a picture. we were definitely dead after kings cross and made it back to our room by 12. legit. saturday morning we walked to darling harbor, not as far as circular quay but still a journey. we went to the aquarium there and it was SICK. there were so many sea turtles tim, you would have loved it. i took some pics so i hope you enjoy those. =] and sharks too! but i really like the aquarium it was super cool. we walked around darling harbor and we ran into this zombie protest. freaking wackadoos. they were all dressed like zombies and warning us that zombies are real and will eventually attack us and that we need to be aware of their existence.... crazies. tim you also would have loved that so i took pictures of that too. aaaaaaaaaaand got the aussie zombie survival guide, sweet eh? so ill be bringing that too. we then took a train to olympic park where they had the 2000 summer olympics. everything was pretty dead there considering it was 10 years ago the place wasn't exactly poppin. but we got to see the track and pool then went up to the observatory in this hotel to see a view of the whole layout, it was really neat. after olympic park we took the train back to our hostel and decided to go out for a nice dinner in darling harbor. we got all bedazzled, not really, and walked back out to darling harbor and made reservations at this little cafe overlooking the harbor. while we were waiting for dinner we just sat around on the docks really upset that we had to wait 45 minutes. but somehow the entire weekend everything was perfect and would somehow go our way, and there was a firework show right in front of us. it was soooo legit! it lasted about 25 minutes and then all of a sudden it was time for dinner. sydney is perfect. i'm obsessed with everything. sunday morning andie flew in!!!!!! i walked to the train station to pick her up and we brought her stuff back to the hostel then the 5 of us took a bus to bondi beach. bondi is AMAZING! i loved it. it was extremely touristy but i still loved everything about it. all weekend we all kept saying how amazing our lives were and that everything was perfect. haha we all felt really gay but all of us definitely fell in love with sydney. we took the bus from bondi to circular quay to walk to the harbor bridge. this was my absolute favorite part. i'm obsessed with the view of the harbor with the opera house and bridge in the background. i could not stop taking pictures of everything and having them take pictures of me in every possible position and every possible angle. hi, i'm a lame tourist, and i loved every second of it. we walked baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack to our hostel it took days because we were exhausted but we got back, bought some passion pop along the way and made dinner at our hostel again and just went to the bar at our hostel and hung out there for the night. monday morning sam, tara and beth checked out and were flying home. andie and i walked to darling harbor to check out the wildlife park. it was super awesome. we saw all the usual animals, spiders, snakes, koalas kangaroos, and a legit crocodile! we watched them feed it a whole dead chicken and the crocodile went buck wild and flung it all around and the chicken guts flew everywhere. sweeeeeet. after the wildlife park andie and i got ready to take the manly ferry to go out to dinner on the other side of the harbor. ferry ride a night is even better than the day, i'm literally in love. we out at this really nice german restaurant right on the harbor, it was a cute little romantic date. =] we walked down the main street at manly beach and found this cute bar that was pretty much empty. the two bartenders convinced us to stay. two hours and an unnameable bar tab later, we ran to catch the last ferry back to circular quay and called it a night. love. love. love. we checked out the next morning and hung out in starbucks until our flight. we got back to good old lismore and started my birthday celebration! dinner at tommy's with everyone, steak of course. several amazing long islands and some shots bought by others turned me into what everyone around is referring to as a dancing machine. apparently the 21 year old in me loves dancing. who knew. and i'm really good according to the pictures. and i sweat a lot. but we already knew that. it was a suuper fun night and the whole next day andie and i watched friends and LOST. perfection.

beth, tara, aubrie, andie and i went to byron bay today and had a great day just hanging out on the beach. andie leaves tomorrow which sucks, but i also leave for the outback! at 4:45am... woooo. i can't believe i will be there for 8 days and no showering yuuuup. i'm super excited about that and cannot wait to sleep under the stars.

it's possible this has been the best week of my life and i have decided that everyone HAS to go to sydney at least once in their life. actually five times. once isn't enough. and you can all easily do that when i move there in my glorious mansion over looking sydney harbor. i'll have plenty of room for guests so no worries. you will fall in love with it so prepare to move there once you visit.

hope i survive the outback and happy easter =]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

mmm possums and spiders

for my outdoor education class we have two field trips planned and we just got back from our first trip. we went camping at a place called meebunn-bia somewhere on the goldcoast just outside of a town called rathdowney. sweet eh? we had to pack everything in this giant legit backpack. we carried our stove, food, "mattress", actually just a ridiculously thin and skinny piece of foam, rain jacket and clothes on our backs the whole time. crazy. the place we stayed was basically farmland. the first day we got there we hiked for about 2 hours to where we were staying, set up our tent, which was actually two tarps, one on bottom and one on top that was propped up by 5 poles and held down by rocks. when our instructor said the university would be providing tents it was a little misleading. after we set up our camp we went to a ropes course where there were 3 different sections and a zip line. they were awesome! the crazy part about it was that we did everything ourselves. all we had was a helmet, a harness, and two carabiners hooked on to our harness that we attached to the trees and wires BY OUR SELF!!! we weren't attached to anyone on the ground or security, my hands have never been more sweaty. surprising, i know. between each little section of the ropes course was a tree, so you had to switch your carabiners at the tree and somehow find a way to hold on to the tree, unhook yourself from the wire, and move on to the next course, by yourself without falling. sweeeet. if you were lucky there as a platform on the tree to stand on but that was about twice. i was behind a couple girls who got to one transition point and kept talking about all the spiders on the tree that you had to get around. all i could think of was how i was going to get there and freak out from a spider and fall off. buuut you all will be so proud to hear that i was happy to be hugging a tree with spiders crawling all over it. i was so scarred of falling and not being attached to the wire that i literally loved holding onto the tree with spiders and i said it aloud right then. i was shocked with my self. someone definitely owes me something for that, tim. i survived the ropes course and zip line which i got to video tape from my teachers camera so hopefully ill get that soon! that night we went back to our camp it was raining a little sooo we were definitely worried about sleeping seeing as our "tents" had no sides, little did we know that was the least of our worries. a little after dinner we were sitting around the camp fire and noticed some noises. possums were every where. freaking great. they weren't even scared of us, which scared me. we all stayed up and tried to warn other tents when the possum would go near it but that could only last so lung. i got stuck on the outside of the tent and mummied myself in my sleeping bag and tried to sleep. pretty soon i hear a little scratching and then feel something crawling on my back. eeeffff meeee. i rolled over and screamed. about 5 minutes later that piece of crap tried to crawl on my feet. i didn't sleep for the rest of the night. the next day we woke up and had to navigate around the whole farmland. four of us took off with a map and a compass and had to find 15 markers. there were about 4 trails and the rest was complete forest and bush. it was crazy. we were literally trekking through huge trees and weeds and dried up creeks with overgrown brush. we ran into about 17 HUGE spiders but after this weekend of bush walking spiders and hugging trees full of them, the progress i'm making is unreal. again tim, if you want to just reward me for that it would be great. after the navigation we packed up our camp and started on another 2 hour hike with all our stuff in our packs. our next activity was a free fall where we climbed up a freaking tiny unstable cable latter 40 ft up a tree and jumped into the air. our harness was attached to a rope connected to someone on the ground who actually knew what they were doing so that was nice but it was heaps fun. we continued our hike up to our next camp were we set up "tents" again. this time even better. no poles, just a rope that we tied between two trees. i'm convinced i can do anything at this point after snuggling with a possum and hugging spiders. we got up to our next campsite just in time to walk up this hill right behind us and watch the most amazing sunset. we all decided that we would wake up early the next morning and hike back up the hill to watch the sunrise. it was one of the most amazing things i've ever seen and so inspiring. we all were so excited to get up that early and sat up there in silence as the sun came up. beautiful. our last activity was another ropes course that you did in pairs. it was legit the hardest thing i have ever done. you are constantly connected to someone and can't move more than 2 feet away from each other, as well as being 30 feet off the ground. trying to climb up a rope ladder, across a cable ladder where the wood planks were too far to step from one to the other, then walk on a cable wire only holding on to ropes spaced apart just enough so you couldn't reach from one to the next. it was extremely difficult but getting to the end and ringing the bell with taylor was one of the most rewarding things and best feelings i have ever had. we were so proud of ourselves and it felt really good to work through that with someone. i loved it!

food for the weekend was interesting.. breakfast consisted of a granola bar and an apple each day. lunch was a tortilla with the famous pb&j, which is surprisingly good and i actually make it at home now when i have anything available to me, sad i know. and dinner was pasta ahhh. boil some noodles. add some sauce. same menu for three days. yuuuup. i was definitely ok with it but that's because at home my meals aren't much different. =] haha

i had a blast the whole trip, i was exhausted but i feel like i really learned a lot and got a lot out of it. i have camped with just a sleeping bag, mat and two tarps, and happily survived. i feel like that's a great accomplishment. im pretty proud of myself. and i'm pretty sure the worst has happened, a possum crawled on me and im ok with spiders crawling everywhere. sounds good hey. and now i could not be more excited for the outback. next step... no tarps, just the stars. perfect =] we'll see what kind of wildlife i come across and if i can survive.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

quiksilver pro, not a big deal.

this past weekend 6 of us went up to the gold coast, a little place called coolangatta, or as i like to say cool and ghetto, where the 2010 quiksilver pro surf tournament was held. legit, i know. we left friday morning on a bus that dropped us off a little less than a mile from our hostel. we had huge back packs and boxes of goon with us so we looked really cool walking from the bus stop to our hostel. luckily our friend was driving down to meet us and somehow saw us... and gave us a ride. when we got to the hostel the guy checked us in and gave us our keys and told us that the quiksilver surf after party would be starting in a couple hours at the bar underneath our hostel. oh cool, ever day life. siiiiiick. haha also that the official closing party for the tournament would also be happening there. again nothing short of what i would expect... haha i was in love at that point. i had decided that since the party was being held at the place we were staying, i was hosting it. so the entire afternoon when people would ask what we were doing that night, i would immediately say, "hosting the quiksilver pro after party, what are you doing..." it was great. we went to dinner at this pizza place by the water and all shared a huge pizza and garlic bread and each had our own bottle of wine. they do a b.y.o at all of the restaurants there which i find really weird but it was actually really cool. we looked pretty classy walking up to the restaurant with our own bottles of wine. after dinner we went to the coolangatta hotel, apparently voted australia's number 1 hotel, where mickey avalon was playing up stairs. we hung out there for a while then headed back to our hostel where the after party was. it was so much fun i can't even describe it. i'm not sure why it was so fun because i'm pretty sure i danced by myself for about 3 hours but it was a blast. somehow the 6 of us managed to get up in this cage/stage area and dance i don't know how we got up there or who let us but it was soo much fun. all i could think of was how jealous mariah was going to be and how much i wished she was right there next to me. we slept a total of about 3 hours that night because we woke up to it being bright and sunny which hasn't happened much in lismore so we ran straight to the beach. running is actually an extreme exaggeration. but we we managed to get ourselves to the beach. walked all around the surf competition, fulfilled my dreams from when i was a 9 year old boy obsessed with quiksilver by buying a tournament t-shirt and then fell asleep on the beach. rough life, i know. we were really tired at that point and decided that we were just going to watch a movie that night. we found a mexican restaurant, again with the b.y.o, and got some mediocre food. all i can think about is a 103 with beans from el taco and i'm counting down the days for it. i think i can wait though, i mean things here aren't too bad here... =]

my roommates and i cooked dinner tonight which was delicious. when i say my roommates and i, i mean they made the food and i did the dishes. and i will happily make that deal with anyone anytime as long as someone is making me food other than pb&j. my roommates are pretty great actually. one of them is studying to be an osteopath and part of her homework is to give massages. yuuuup. i sign up for that just about every night and it is glorious.

it was finally sunny out today so i took full advantage of that and went straight out to the pool when i woke up. i can't be the whitest person in all my pictures anymore especially when i'm usually with girls from minnesota. im still working on the bronzing so hopefully its stays this sunny for a while.

we had a meeting today for our central australia outback trip and i could not be more excited. our teacher was explaining the sunrise hike and the overnight walk and showed us pictures from previous trips and i couldn't stop smiling the whole time. i can't believe i get to do that and i am so thankful for it and blessed. amazing.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

meat pies and netball

at the beginning of orientation i signed up for an "aussie lunch" where a family picks you up from campus, takes you to their house and cooks lunch for you. free meal, i'm there. so it was on sunday and the family i went with was actually dutch, soo you guys can tell me what country their from.... but they moved here 5 years ago and live on 15 acres in a town called rock valley which is about 30 minutes away from my school. i went with one other american girl and it was a really cool experience. they drive there was extremely pretty. all green hills and farmland. it actually looks a lot like central california. they live at the top of a hill and we drove up their dirt drive way into what looked like the swiss family robinson house. they had an AMAZING deck that wrapped around their entire house and it opened up out over the cliff with a perfect view of the valley. they had a hammock and dinning table outside and we sat out there for a while and ate our meat pies. i never thought i would like anything called a meat pie but it was delicious. she sent us home with some and they were definitely gone within 10 minutes of me being home.

tuesday night my house went out for family dinner at this place called tommy's. it's sort of like a restaurant/bar/nightclub. actually it was a really nice place but it was student night so everything was only $14 dollars. steak, chips(aka french fries) and salad. bomb. it felt so good to have a legitimate meal that was cooked properly and didn't involve me using the microwave. i have decided i am going there twice a month to get a steak. i'm already excited for the next time i go.

these girls came to our room one night and asked my roommate to play netball with them because they wee one short, she didn't want to go and for some reason i just stood up and said i'll go. good thing i know what netball is and how to play. siiiike. as i walked down with them i had to explain that i had never heard of the game before and had no idea what do. it was sooo much fun! i played center, i don't know what that means, i got the whistle blown at me about 7 times, and we lost. haha it was great. its like basketball except there is no backboard and you cant dribble or move if you have the ball. i still don't get it or any of the rules but i had fun and hope they let me play with them again.... hopefully i wasn't the reason we lost.

i'm also on a beach volleyball team. that was legit. we had our first game today and we got the big W. wooo wooo. we won the first game, lost the second and won the third it was actually pretty close and we were all getting into it and it was super fun. everyone was diving for the ball and super competitive, my kind of team. haha there was sand everywhere when we were done but it was soo fun!

i found a site to watch lost on so my life is officially complete. i was absolutely absorbed in it last night and i cant wait to see next weeks. i'm so angry that everyone, tim, marcus and my mom, are a week ahead of me but it was all i though about today. big loser, i know. but i love it heaps.